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New Orleans Saints at Tennessee Titans: Fan’s Week 14 NFL Prediction Against the Spread (2011-12 Season)
The Tennessee Titans are in a four-way tie for the AFC's final wild-card berth. They could get a huge boost this week if they can upset the New Orleans Saints. Are the Titans for real or have they just beaten some bad teams these past few weeks?
The early spread on this game is Saints (-3.5). Here are some of the key aspects of the game and what to watch out for in pick 'em leagues. All lines from Y! Sports and injury reports from CBS Sports as of December 6, 2011. Always update yourselves with injury lines because they'll change throughout the week. Please note that ATS means "Against the spread."
My Current Personal Picks Record (Straights Picks Only, Not Spreads!)
Tennessee Titans 9-3
New Orleans Saints 8-4
Keys to the Game
- Can the Titans get an interior pass rush?
- The health of Jason McCourty and Tommie Campbell
- Can the Titans contain Jimmy Graham(notes)?
- Can the Titans win time-of-possession and have success with Chris Johnson?
- Will the Titans "Bend-but-don't-break" defense surrender field goals or touchdowns?
- Could the biggest problem for the Titans not be named Drew Brees(notes)? How about Mark Ingram(notes) or Darren Sproles(notes)?
- Can Matt Hasselbeck(notes) and the receivers execute better than they have in previous weeks?
- The offensive lines
- The Saints aren't invincible away from the dome. Just ask the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and St. Louis Rams.
The Saints are trying to maintain a two-game lead in the NFC South over the Atlanta Falcons. They're also trying to keep up with the San Francisco 49ers in an effort to capture a first-round bye in the playoffs. The Titans are trying to keep their slim hopes for winning the AFC South alive. They're also trying to keep pace in a four-way race for the AFC's final wild-card berth.
The Saints may be the NFL's hottest team right now. However, they've shown some dents in their armor when they've played on the road. They have losses against the Buccaneers and Rams. Assuming Jason McCourty can play, the Titans have the passing defense that could possibly contain the Saints' offense in L.P. Field.
Chris Johnson has rushed for at least 130 yards in three of the past four games. However, those games were against the Carolina Panthers, Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills. These teams are ranked 27th, 29th and 24th in run defense, respectively. While the Saints are ranked 16th, they allow 4.9 rushing yards per attempt. That's tied for third-worst in the NFL. It's also a higher average then the other three opponents I just mentioned.
Johnson can have success with running against this defense. It's up to the offensive line to create the lanes and offensive coordinator Chris Palmer to not abandon the running game.
There are two problems that keep me from picking the Titans. Those problems are the Titans' run defense and the offense's inability to maintain possession, something that's plagued the Titans since 2010.
The Titans average 27:58 of possession per game. While it's an improvement over last season, it's still 29th in the NFL. The Titans must shorten this game as much as possible and limit the Saints' offense to field goals.
The Titans must get big performances from their interior defensive linemen. Anyone that saw the Sunday Night Football game between the Detroit Lions and Saints should understand what I'm talking about after Nick Fairley(notes) went out in the first quarter. These guys must pressure the quarterback and also contain the running game along with MLB Colin McCarthy(notes).
This will sound silly but I'm more worried about Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles. The Titans also don't have anyone who can cover Jimmy Graham.
I'm expecting a solid performance from the Titans. I don't think they'll win because Brees is playing too well and Sean Payton (or whoever is calling plays right now) won't abandon the running game if it's working. And while the Titans have won three of their past four games, they have beaten opponents that were in the midst of slumps. Matt Hasselbeck must stop overthrowing receivers like he did with Damian Williams(notes) on the first drive against the Bills. Those opportunities must be cashed in against quality opponents.
Against the Spread: Tennessee Titans (+3.5)
Straight: New Orleans Saints 26, Tennessee Titans 24
Joshua Huffman graduated from Middle Tennessee State University as a marketing major in 2009. He's been a Middle Tennessee resident from 1986-1988 and 2001-present. He lived in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin from 1988-2001 and for approximately eight months in 2009-2010 while completing a 20-game volunteer position with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers. His favorite sports organizations include the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs and Nashville Predators. He also follows the Tennessee Titans, his favorite AFC team.
More From This Contributor
Checkout my Y!CN portfolio and/or my NFL predictions blog for more picks throughout the week. The blog will feature individual summaries from most NFL games AND links to other writers' picks such as Zac Wassink, Randy Inman, Rodney Southern, etc.
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